Novel Three Act Template Back to all templates
Section 1

Tip:  This is the first scene of your book and should compel your audience to read on. If you’re stuck, start by introducing your protagonist in their natural setting.


Act 1 (Setup): Opening Scene

Note for Act 1: The first act of your novel should set up your story: the characters, themes, setting, and context are all exposed in this section. An inciting event will occur, providing a question to be solved by the rest of the novel and laying the ground for the rest of the plot. 


Write your first scene here. Establish some key details (but not necessarily all of them) in the opening. For example, introduce the protagonist, the antagonist, a hint at the future conflict, the setting, or a combination of these.


Section 2

Tip: The scenes following your opening should fill in the important details that set up the rest of the novel’s action. 


Act 1 (Setup): Exposition

Write concurrent scenes here. These should help further establish the main players and the world they’re living in.


Section 3

Tip: This is the game-changer, or turning point of your story. The rest of the plot follows from this event, so it must challenge some aspect of the protagonist’s established world.


Act 1 (Setup): Inciting Event

Narrate the inciting event here. This should draw on the characters, setting, and themes you have established so far. There should be a call to action for the protagonist that serves as an impetus for future action.


Section 4

Tip: Illustrate what is at stake for your protagonist now that some aspect of their world has been altered and what options they have for how to proceed. 


Act 2 (Rising Action): Choice

Note for Act 2: The “meat” of your novel will likely fall into the second act. In this act, the plot progresses as your protagonist struggles with their new trajectory, faces challenges and questions their actions. All of the plot points in this section should bring your protagonist closer to the climactic action.


Following the inciting event, expose the choice your protagonist faces in light of changes they face. Then, once they have made their choice, they must reach a point of no return that sets them on a trajectory towards the climax.


Section 5

Tip: Focus on character development through these scenes. How does your protagonist respond to challenges? What keeps them motivated? How are they growing as a character as the novel develops?


Act 2 (Rising Action): Challenges

It shouldn’t be smooth sailing for your protagonist once they choose a path. In this section, write scenes depicting the obstacles faced by the protagonist and how they overcome them (or fail to do so). 


Section 6

Tip: It should feel like pieces of a puzzle are falling in to place, like you’ve rolled a snowball down a hill that can’t be stopped. Try to build some suspense leading up to (and throughout) the climax. 


Act 3 (Resolution): Plan

Note for Act 3: In the third act, the action of your novel will come to a head, and one way or another will be resolved. 


Raise the stakes here. Show how the protagonist is synthesizing all that they have learned and experienced in preparation for the climactic action, which you should also finish setting up here.  Wrap up any subplots in preparation for the climax. 


Section 7

Tip: This is the pinnacle of your plot, where everything comes to a head. Remember the question your novel is asking and try to answer it with the outcome of the climactic action.


Act 3 (Resolution): Climax

This is where the climax of the novel occurs. This is the ultimate showdown between the protagonist and their antagonist, and they either succeed or fail. 


Section 8
No tip available for this section

Act 3 (Resolution): Falling Action

The consequences of the outcome of climax play out in this section. Show how the key players react to and are affected by what has just happened in the climax. 


Section 9

Tip: You can leave as much or as little up to the reader’s imagination as you want in this section. Think about what thought you want to leave your reader with as your wrap up the novel, and make sure your final scene does that. 


Act 3 (Resolution): Denouement

In the final section, provide a glimpse of the new status quo for the protagonist and other characters. Show the changes to them and their world since your readers were first introduced, return to the themes or question posed and provide a sense of resolution. 


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